So many things have personality. A dog has a personality. A chair can have personality. A cloud, even, if you have enough imagination. Unruly Heroes was created, presumably, by people who all have vibrant experiences that deserve to be shared. Every single person who helped to create this game added a piece of themselves to it, yet it came out entirely devoid of life. It has as much personality as cottage cheese. It is an unscented candle. It features the single worst voice acting performance this side of Shenmue. This is our Unruly Heroes review for PlayStation 4.
From the opening cutscene, you can feel the blurgh pouring out of Unruly Heroes. The voice actor responsible for the main goddess is intolerably bland. I’m guessing she either recorded all of her lines while sleeping, or she was on an actual heroin nod. She talks like she needs emotional support, and she’s not alone: every single voice-acted character set a new watermark of awful. Sure enough, though, the next character to speak surpassed it in every way. It is awful in every way voice acting can be awful.
There are also odd anachronisms sprinkled throughout, but in a way that makes it feel like lazy writing instead of snappy reference. And I mean, like, Bubsy-levels of lazy writing. Modern commentary is thrown in at random, such as when the lead spirit (pictured above) tells you, after defeating the first boss, “HOT DAMN, heroes, that was UH-MAY-ZING,” and all in the most utter monotone. Um, why is this ancient Chinese spirit talking like that? Why did the evil spirit we just destroyed also talk like that? Why is this writing so terribly unfunny that it causes constipation? How bad does writing need to be before it is considered a form of harassment?
While nothing is as bad as the voice acting and writing, nothing is particularly good about Unruly Heroes, either. The visuals have that Rayman Legends smoothness to them but are also oddly sparse. Backgrounds are colorful but featureless. The style of different areas is interesting, but then it is repeated multiple times without variation over the course of a few levels. The characters are ably animated, and their snappy movements and visual personality are probably the highlights of the game. That animation seems for naught when the gameplay feels weightless and inconsequential, though.
None of your slaps and smacks seem to have much visual effect on enemies, other than depleting their health bars. Hit ‘em with a stick? There’s a noise, and the health bar goes down. Blast them with glowing energy? Noise and health bar goes down. There’s no appreciable difference between characters’ attacks (you can switch between four characters at will, or can play with up to four friends), and nothing feels like it’s really happening. The game is devoid of physics.
By way of example, in one of the early levels, you somehow take over a wolf character’s body. This character carries a spear. As you approach a locked door, the game tells you to press L2 to throw a spear.
So I wound up, and I threw the spear, and something truly ironic happened: the spear bounced weightlessly off of the target. The target slid back into nothingness. The spear disappeared. The door opened.
Man, it’s rare to be able to use “ironic” accurately, but I did, and I’m proud. I’m patting myself on the back for that.
Now I was pretty sure that spears don’t just bounce weightlessly off of wooden surfaces at which they are launched, but I realized at that moment that I didn’t know how spears work in the real world. I decided to try an experiment. I duct-taped a steak knife to a broom handle and went into my back yard. I hung a small target on my fence, stepped back ten paces, and squared up. I wound up and I threw the spear.
I can now say with confidence that spears do not just bounce off of wooden surfaces. I can also say that spears are much harder to aim than I anticipated. I can also say that, if you’re going to throw a homemade spear at a fence you share with a neighbor, make sure he’s not sitting outside with his Shih-Pom and a Pabst. He will get upset, I promise.
There are so many cut corners in this game. The first miniboss you face is a rhinoceros who claims he is going to eat you because apparently, not one single fucking person at this company knows what a rhinoceros is or what they eat.
Also, I think that a rhinoceros evokes a certain charge-heavy move set, in a video game. Throwing the body weight around, using the horn, running straight at you; all the old rhinoceros standbys. A rhinoceros who mentions eating you, and is called an “armored gourmand with an appetite for destruction,” also evokes a certain style of attack, right? Perhaps a biting attack? A belly slam? A tidal wave of diarrhea brought on by his previous culinary misadventures?
To all of that, the designers said “Nah” and just gave him two stubby fucking axes to swing around. A rhinoceros.
Finally, and most importantly, I need to mention that you can throw enemies in this game. You can chuck them a fair distance, as well, though the odd physics mean that any thrown enemy eventually just flutters back to the ground like a thrown balloon. It is presented as a combat option to grab and throw enemies into environmental hazards for an easy kill, and it is actually kind of fun to do. However, there is a bit of a cardinal sin to the throwing, because this is a platformer/beat-’em-up. This is a game where you beat everything’s ass. That is the goal.
SO WHY CAN’T I HIT A MOTHERFUCKER WITH ANOTHER MOTHERFUCKER COME ON THAT IS BASIC LOGIC IT IS EVERYONE’S DREAM WHY DON’T YOU LET ME LIVE THAT DREAM.
Unruly Heroes is a game of boinks and swooshes. Everything bounces around weightlessly and nothing makes sense. The rhinoceroses don’t charge, the spears don’t chunk into the wood, and the thrown enemies have no impact whatsoever. The voice acting is aggressively bad, the writing is lifeless, and the game itself is devoid of personality. It is white bread. It is room-temp tap water. It is not worth your time.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on PlayStation 4 with a code provided by PR.